Anthropologists and War

Author: Jennifer Robertson | guest editor

Abstract:

Contributions by Sabine Frühstück, Regev Nathansohn, Hugh Gusterson, Christine Sargent, Andrew Conroe, and Tomomi Yamaguchi

What has distinguished anthropology from the other social sciences is an immersion in sustained fieldwork, itself premised on different kinds and levels of lived and shared experiences, usually with hitherto strangers in another culture in an often distant geographical location. In 2005 the U.S. Department of Defense inaugurated the experimental Human Terrain System, which embeds social scientists with combat brigades to enhance "operational effectiveness" and, supposedly, to reduce civilian casualties. A consensus is emerging among concerned anthropologists that ethnographic fieldwork abroad and within a broad spectrum of military activities and actors can, and must, be employed to challenge the U.S. Army's alarmingly naïve concept of "weaponizing culture." The constituent essays in this thematic collection on the vicissitudes of the relationship between war and anthropology take up and complicate the premises of this challenge.



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September 2010
© ILO/Mirza A.